City ID Plan Approved

by Melissa Bailey | June 5, 2007 1:25 AM | | Comments (15)

Calling it a move towards “social justice,” aldermen overwhelmingly approved a plan to issue identification cards for all city residents regardless of immigration status. Click on the play arrow to watch the emphatic applause for the plan, the first of its kind in the nation.

The so-called Elm City Resident Card has drawn boiling condemnation from outsider activists but overwhelming support inside city limits — click here, here and here for background on the card, introduced by Mayor DeStefano.

In a 25 to 1 vote Monday, aldermen approved acceptance of $250,359 in private funds from the First City Fund Corporation to support the mayor’s plan. The Elm City Resident Card, originally designed to help undocumented immigrants avoid getting robbed or assaulted, will be a combination of identification, debit card, library card, and a way to pay the parking meter, for all city residents young and old. The city plans to roll out the new cards in July.

The city will also start working towards the ID card’s main public safety goal — allowing immigrants to use the ID to open bank accounts and therefore not get robbed while carrying around large amounts of cash — by reaching out to area banks.

“This is a social justice issue,” said Hill Alderman Jorge Perez on the aldermanic floor. Like others, he’s been inundated with emails lashing out against the city, from outsiders who maintain that “millions of people are going to come to America through New Haven because we’re offering an ID.” Perez refuted that claim and thanked the mayor and Kica Matos “for the leadership they have shown and the heat they have taken” in proposing the ID.

Republican East Shore Alderwoman Arlene DePino cast the sole “nay” vote.

The new card will cost $10 for adults and $5 for children. It would have a debit card capacity of $150.

IMG_8648.JPGA small group of out-of-town protesters, who maintain undocumented workers should not be given the same services as legal citizens, gathered outside City Hall before the vote, but did not enter the chambers, where about 250 union members, immigrant families and grassroots activists brimmed with such enthusiasm that they were repeatedly asked to quiet down.

Indira Pedriza, who moved here seven years ago from Mexico, jumped to her feet in applause when the item passed. (Click on the play arrow at the top of the story to watch.) “We needed that — this is good for me!” she said.

“It brings tears to my eyes,” said Marieah Viviel, who at this hearing told a harrowing tale of how her El Salvadoran housekeeper, Elena, and her son were robbed in their Fair Haven apartment by people who knew they were undocumented and stored large amounts of cash. Viviel found them lying on the kitchen floor, bound by electric cords, their home plundered.

“This will be not just a decloaker for those who are invisible, but a deterrent to those who do what they did to Elena,” said Viviel after the vote, wiping her tears. “I’m so glad!”

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Posted by: charlie | June 5, 2007 1:53 AM

Time to buy a house. Prices around here are about to go through the roof.

Posted by: Peter Dobkin Hall | June 5, 2007 6:41 AM

When the City can provide services efficiently, maintain its crumbling infrastructure, root out pervasive corruption and incompetence, and get its taxes under control, *then*, perhaps, it can afford the luxury of expensive and onerous political gestures of this kind!

More nonesense from our one-party machine-controlled "Democratic" regime!

Posted by: New Haven Resident | June 5, 2007 8:00 AM

So when exactly did it become ok and legal to be an ILLEGAL alien?

Posted by: westvillecharlie | June 5, 2007 8:52 AM

Congrats illegal immigrants on getting a break from an administration that need a strong hispanic show of support to win the next election. Has this First City Fund Corp. ever given a quarter of a million dollars to help newhallville residents get homownership, or hill residents get rid of crack dealers or fair haven heights citizens college loans. or maybe help all immigrants learn english? The european, latin american and asian immigrants of days passed were able to assimilate into american society because they were expected to learn english and forced to hunker down. Why don't we do for the immigrants what we've done for new orleans' katrina refugees - give them a place to stay for a fewe months, a few bucks then let them fend for themselves.
Lets remember the the Balkans, Soviet Union and damned near our immediate neighbor to the north, Qubec, all had multiple language issues that led ,or almost led, to their deimise as nations. There should be one currency, one government and one language.
It is humane to want to help people, it is slef destructive and dangerous to ignore your own people first and foremost. You can't take care of others if you cannot take care of yorself. At a milrate of 42+, we have to take care of new haveners first. Other towns and citiies have been able to slow the expansion of it's population, while it works on bettering it's citizens. It's time we did the same.
And, by the way, george bush is an idiot, so don't think i'm one of his neocon groupies.

Posted by: Gary Doyens | June 5, 2007 9:57 AM

It is an interesting and a sad commentary when the identity of a group of people are tied to a piece of plastic. Their worth to New Haven and society as a whole is found in becoming legal, following the law, learning to communicate outside of their small community, and participating in democracy to its full extent. These folks, as good as most of them are, made the choice to come here illegally and they must remedy that in some fashion.

By the way, for over a year now, Bank of America has provided banking services to the illegal immigrant community -- including checking, savings, loans and mortgages. It is dishonest and disturbing for advocates to maintain illegals are locked out of traditional banking. It is an option today and has been for some time. Get the word out. It will make these folks safer and quit using it as justification. You may have other reasons, but the lack of banking options isn't one of them.

Aside from that, my concern continues to be future funding for this program. While the Finance Committee approved this program, it did so with the understanding no city tax money would be used to support it going forward. Community Services, including Kika Matos agreed. It is disheartening that Mayor DeStefano feels it is possible to pillage taxpayers again for another new program that provides benefits for a few, at the continuing and rising expense of the rest of us. This program should only continue if it is self funding via fees and/or outside grants.

Posted by: The Hill | June 5, 2007 10:25 AM

From my understanding and what i saw on the news last night, the city is NOT funding these cards, nor is it coming out of taxpayer money. Be educated before you make accusations. How will this affect homeowners? It won't. The only way that it will affect homeowners is if you let them into your home. This is ID card CAN ONLY be used in New Haven and not in any other city. Its not like other illegal immigrants will be flooding in now to New Haven and taking the card back to where they live, it is Just for here. I am an african american, i never received anything like this, but times have changed and when something like this happens we have to learn how to accept change. It is not affecting us in any way. And let me point out, this card is for EVERYONE, but the media has portrayed it to be exclusively for illegal immigrants. Anyways, read thoroughly before you jump to conclusions.

Posted by: Wjay | June 5, 2007 11:51 AM

While the ID card is not illegal by law, the true test of the card will come if the city fails to follow federal guidlines in obtaining all the required personal information on recipents. The required data collection goes far beyond just name,address and birth date. Much more substantial data collection is required. The BOA in it's haste to "justice", has not here-to-fore been willing to insure the letter of the law will be followed.
The real irony here is that of the $250.000 one time grant,the city will rip off $175,000 for personel cost, in order to administer the remaining $75,359 program cost to the recipents.
Looks like the immigrants are getting the short shake again.(Don't worry, it only hurts when you smile) :=)

Posted by: frank | June 5, 2007 12:43 PM

Well, great country America. Come here illegally adn get whatever you want or need, but, as far as the American citizen goes, keep taxing them to death so we can give the illegals what they want. Home owner taxes are at the point where the working citizen can't keep up, but perhaps we'll be asked in the very near future to give the illegals our houses simply because they came here illegally and thats what they want for being here illegally. Just imagine if he were elected govenor, OH MY GOD!

Posted by: Jonathan Kantrowitz | June 5, 2007 2:22 PM

Immigrants learning English in the old days is a myth. My grandparents never learned English - I could not talk to them. Second generation did - most successfully - as will most second generation Hispanic immigrants.

Fear of strangers is a common instinct - but they will all be part of our community now!

Posted by: Bill Saunders | June 5, 2007 7:32 PM

I couldn't even not get a New Haven library card last summer, using my valid CT driver's License. I had to return with a current piece of mail as well. Somehow, my current, taxpayers address listed on my valid Connecticut Drivers license was not sufficient identification for getting a library card, in the eyes of the City of New Haven.

So, what exact standard is going to be used to establish people's identities for these cards, if a CT Drivers License can't even get you a library card these days.

Posted by: Gary Doyens | June 5, 2007 10:08 PM

The Hill: Pls reread what I wrote -- Going forward means after year one. My concern over finances has nothing to do with year one. It is paid for with the grant. But the grant is for one year only when Community Services and others anticipate this program will continue past that time period. If it's to be continued beyond that time period, I don't want already stressed, rising property taxes used for it. We are taxed to death. As for this card being for everybody, it's primary focus has always been the illegal immigrant community. That others may also see some benefit is possible, but it is not expected to be anywhere near as extensive or targeted in terms of marketing.

Posted by: New Haven | June 5, 2007 10:23 PM

New Sign should be placed on I95 and I91 welcoming people to New haven

"Welcome to New haven land of the overtaxed and refuge for the illegals"

Posted by: Carolina | June 19, 2007 9:27 PM

to Westvillecharlie: you forgot Switzerland. Don't they all speak four languages over there? And, as far as I'm concerned, they have less problems than we do here. Conclusion: who cares if there's two languages? As long as you speak English, you'll be fine. The problem comes to those that don't speak English and can't make themselves be understood all the time.

to Frank: When is it going to enter your thick skull that no American tax-payer dollar is really reaching the illegal immigrants. They have no Social Security. They can't have access to Medicare, Medicaid, or any other welfare programs.Being illegal means you have none to little rights...and that's the way it has been.

To Jonathan Kantrowitz: Thumbs up! You are absolutely right about the immigrants in the old time learning English and about fear of strangers. Xenophobia it's going to lead this country to it lead ancient China to ruin.

My question is: are we going to have to go through the 1960's again so we can accept illegal immigrants? And, have you thought that maybe illegal immigrants could learn English if they didn't have to work 12 hours a day to support a family? Give them a place to stay and a safe status, and then force them to learn English, not the other way around.

Live the life of an illegal immigrant for a week...and then come here and tell me what you think. Until that happens, please refrain yourselves from giving uneducated opinions.

Posted by: shame | June 22, 2007 10:49 AM

In response to Carolina
"No American tax-payer dollar is really reaching the illegal immigrants?"
Are they sending their children to school?
Are they driving their vehicles on the city streets?
Do they get their trash collected every week?

If so, I have some news for you, American tax-payer dollars are paying for those services

Furthermore, if this program isn't supposed to cost the New Haven taxpayers anything, why is it being hosted in City Hall?
Last time I checked, electricity wasn't free

Posted by: John Campbell | June 23, 2007 9:20 PM

If one has possession of a "resident card", can they use it to obtain a drivers license? Do American citizens qualify for this card, say a homeless veteran? Is the governor aware that this card is being issued? Why is the city really issuing this card? Its obvious from the purpose of this card that its not being issued for the personal safety of the holder. Is the mayor attempting to create a new immigration policy that would be in direct violation of federal immigration laws?

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